C. Joint Stock Companies

Another business venture that developed during this period was known as the joint-stock company. The joint-stock company worked much like the modern-day corporation, with investors buying shares of stock in a company. It involved a number of people combining their wealth for a common purpose. 

In Europe during the 1500's and 1600's, that common purpose was American colonization. It took large amounts of money to establish overseas colonies. Moreover, while profits may have been great, so were risks. Many ships, for instance, never completed the long and dangerous ocean voyage. Because joint-stock companies involved numerous investors, the individual members paid only a fraction of the total colonization cost. If the colony failed, investors lost only their small share. If the colony thrived, the investors shared in the profits. It was a joint-stock company that was responsible for establishing Jamestown, England's first North American colony. 


Crest of the Virginia Company, which was a joint stock company that was responsible for the establishment of the Jamestown colony in Virginia in 1607. 
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